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Rangers agree to deals with RFAs Alexandar Georgiev, Tony DeAngelo

Rangers goaltender Alexandar Georgiev against the St. Louis

Rangers goaltender Alexandar Georgiev against the St. Louis Blues at Madison Square Garden on March 3, 2020. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Hours after announcing they’d reached agreement on a contract with restricted free agent goaltender Alexandar Georgiev, the Rangers followed that up Thursday night with the announcement they also signed a new deal with RFA defenseman Tony DeAngelo, their fourth-leading scorer in 2019-20.

The deal with DeAngelo is for two years at a total of $9.6 million, an annual value of $4.8 million, according to reports. DeAngelo's 53 points (15 goals, 38 assists) were the most of any Rangers defenseman and the fourth most of any defenseman in the league.

By reaching an agreement, the two sides avoid going to arbitration, which had been scheduled for Monday.

Georgiev, who led Rangers goalies in appearances (34), starts (32) and wins (17), also agreed to a two-year deal, which CapFriendly said was worth a total of $4.85 million, for an average annual value of $2.425 million. Georgiev also had been scheduled to have his contract brought before an arbitrator, with his hearing set for Oct. 31.

DeAngelo, a righthanded-shooting, offensive defenseman who quarterbacked the Rangers’ top power play unit in 2019-20, likely would have been looking at a salary of over $5 million on a longer-term contract. But the Rangers are being squeezed by the salary cap, and they still have two more RFAs to sign: forwards Ryan Strome and Brendan Lemieux.

In locking up DeAngelo and Georgiev, both 24, for a combined AAV of $7.225 million, the Rangers may have left themselves enough room under the cap to sign both Strome and Lemieux, who are scheduled to have their respective arbitration hearings on Nov. 5 and 6. According to CapFriendly, the Rangers now have approximately $10.88 million available under the cap, though some of that space has to be set aside to accommodate performance bonuses for players on the roster.

DeAngelo's two-year deal may set him up to get a bigger payday in his next contract. Teams around the league are feeling financial strain because of the coronavirus, which forced the league to pause its season in March before resuming in August. It is unknown when the 2020-21 season will begin or whether fans will be allowed in arenas. With all that uncertainty, the league has frozen its salary cap at $81.5 million for at least the next two years. But by the time DeAngelo is negotiating his next contract, teams may be in a better financial situation and the salary cap theoretically could be going up.

However, a two-year deal works for the Rangers, too, as they have prospect Nils Lundkvist – like DeAngelo, a righthanded, offensively-inclined defenseman – playing well in the Swedish Hockey League and potentially ready to come to the NHL next season. With DeAngelo signed to a relatively reasonable contract, he might be an attractive trade chip at the next trade deadline, as the Rangers open room for Lundkvist in 2021-22.

Georgiev, whom the Rangers signed as an undrafted free agent after a tryout in 2017, was 17-14-2, with a 3.04 goals-against average, .910 save percentage and two shutouts in 2019-20. He started the season in a tandem with Henrik Lundqvist, then became the No. 2 goalie behind Igor Shesterkin after Shesterkin was called up from the minor leagues in January. When Lundqvist was bought out of the final year of his contract on Sept. 30, that left Georgiev as the sole backup to Shesterkin.

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